Litany For Those At Sea
I’m pleased to announce the sale of “Litany For Those At Sea” a painting I created for #TRIBE15 in 2015, courtesy of Chrom-art.org.
I created a mock-up of the idea in 2011 by making a small piece titled “Our Father”.
Litany For Those At Sea, began in July 2015 and I photo-documented the process. You can see from the images (see below) that underneath the background is a face. I had used the surface to practice my spray paint techniques. Over the face, I began to lay down the common prayer book pages, taken from The Common Prayer Book.
On the 11th of August I visited the British Museum and fell in love with most of the works from Benin, but focused more so on the Idea Mask. I began by pencilling my impression onto the background. From there until beginning of September, we worked together to bring the piece into existence, using acrylics, charcoal and ink. The vintage postage stamps of the queen used for the eyes were donated by two friends, Julia and Jane.
The painting pays homage to the Idia mask from the Benin Empire. The object was looted during the Benin Expedition when Britain raided Benin and took fine artefacts that can now be found in the British Museum, The Met, and elsewhere. These objects were exquisitely crafted. The Europeans at that time thought that the artworks were so beautifully crafted that they didn’t believe that the objects could have been made by the Edo people and that they must have been made by Europeans.
The juxtaposition between the background, made up of pages taken from The Common Prayer Book, and the mask is to acknowledge colonialism and the union, although aggressive, of two cultures and the title is to recognise those that suffered and lives lost during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The piece was exhibited at #Tribe15 and later showcased for a project titled CHROM-ART at Ransome’s Dock.
My wonderful daughter understood my passion to excavate history to inform my work and my own journey, so in December 2015, she bought me a DNA test kit, and in February 2016 the results showed that 14% of my DNA could be traced to Nigeria, which aligned with the painting.
Soon afterwards, on March 25th, 2016 my father passed away after suffering a stroke. It was this shocking loss, that encouraged me to take a leap back into education to study Black Studies at Birmingham City University, which begins in Sept 2017.
Africa is calling: It is now my plan to visit four countries in Africa, inc Nigeria before Uni to feel, heal and embrace what may unfold. One of my concerns was how to financially facilitate my trip, so the sale of this painting is profound and perfect timing to help with flights. With all going well, my journey will begin with Jamaica to mark the anniversary of my dads passing, followed with Haiti, onto New York, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, and maybe ending in Mozambique. I will blog my journey, so please do check back in.
Later, at some stage, I may visit Scandinavia, as 15% of my DNA results are traced in these Nordic countries. But for now it is the Blackness of who I am that feels the needs to reconnect, as this was never celebrated during my formative years. The Vikings can wait, I know about them. Yoruba culture and other possibilities, on the other hand, is a germinating seed, and I can’t wait to see how it grows and what else may come about along the way.
Thank you Queen Idia
Pages from The Common Prayer book, acrylic, ink, postage stamps, charcoal on 12mm plywood.
Image size 46inch x48inch